Owners are yet to complete the process to receive loan from the stimulus package
Although the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has assured that all the workers will get their wages for the month of April by May 20, leaders of garment workers have expressed doubt over it saying the owners are yet to complete the process to receive loan from the stimulus package announced by the government.
Faisal Samad, senior vice-president of BGMEA, the apex body of the country’s garment sector, said workers of garment factories have started receiving wages for April from May 7, reports UNB.
"Hopefully, we will be able to complete the wage disbursement by May 20,” he added.
The owners have already started the process to avail assistance from the stimulus package announced for the export-oriented industries to pay wages and allowances to the workers, Faisal further commented.
The government previously announced a Tk5,000 crore stimulus package for the export-oriented industries in this regard.
Replying to a query, Faisal said: “40-60 factories, most of which are working on subcontracts, failed to pay wages for March due to inadequate fund, but they will be able to pay the wages before Eid as they (owners) have already applied for ‘disaster fund’ which is expected to be disbursed next week.”
Asked about the wages of the workers staying in their respective village homes since the announcement of general holidays from March 26, the BGMEA senior vice-president said almost all of them have already received wages for March through mobile banking system and they will get the wages for April the same way.
Asked about Eid-bonus, he answered their priority now is to clear the wages.
Joly Talukder, general secretary of Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendro, said she is doubtful about the commitment the BGMEA leaders made over the payment of wages by May 20.
Referring to the May 14 tripartite meeting with BGMEA leaders, union leaders and government representatives, Joly said BGMEA president Dr Rubana Huq informed the meeting that many owners were yet to start the process to get soft loan from the stimulus package.
“Around 500 owners are yet to complete the process. How will they pay the wages for the last month by May 20?” she was quoted as saying.
If the authorities concerned do not pressure the RMG factory owners, they will not pay the wages before Eid, Joly remarked.
Regarding the garment factory owners’ decision not to retrench workers until the Eid-ul-Fitr, Joly informed that around 40,000 workers have already been laid off since March 26.
Garments workers may take to the streets even amid the risk of coronavirus transmission if they do not get their wages timely, she stated.
Workers in the labour-intensive garment sector are at high risk of coronavirus infection since they work in close proximity to each other, according to health experts. A number of RMG workers have already been diagnosed with Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has so far reported 298 deaths and 20,065 coronavirus cases till Friday.